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Pennine Way Trip 3

 

Pennine Way Trip 3

August 2018

Horton-in-Ribblesdale to Dufton 66 miles

Dufton to Applebyin-Westmoreland 4 miles

80 miles – 8 days – 7 camps – 12kgs – one dog

 

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The route walked from south to north.
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Trekkertent Stealth 2 tent
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Dippy dopey daft daring duo. We were happy, honest!

DAY ONE: Horton to Ling Gill Bridge 5 miles

Weather: wet and windy, dry in the evening.

A day of train travel, wet and windy hiking, flooded paths, deep potholes, a stunning ravine and a wild-camp by the stream.

Highs:

  • A straight forward and comfortable train journey.
  • Pitching the tent in dry conditions on level and fairly dry ground.

Lows:

  • Heavy rain for several hours.
  • No nice views due to the weather. 

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DIARY: after a long, but comfortable, train journey me and a faithful Labrador-cross called Lola, my son’s dog, arrived in Horton-in-Ribblesdale.

Unfortunately, soon after setting off it started to spit then rain heavily for several hours, which didn’t fill me with much enthusiasm for the rest of the trip. Dark thoughts of turning back while still near a railway station were eventually dispelled from my mind; surely it won’t rain for a week, the forecast said changeable, not monsoon season.

A few miles along the ‘Cam Road’ (a roman road and old drovers’ track), a stream had turned into a raging torrent plunging into the depths of a deep pothole called Calf Holes, an impressive sight and sound.

Thankfully the deluge stopped just before we got to Ling Gill Bridge, a good spot to pitch up, giving us chance to set up camp and have a look at the Ling Gill Ravine.

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Setting off in Horton
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The foot-bridge over the river Ribble.
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One of the three peaks, possibly Ingleborough.
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We found a good pitch just off the path and near the stream. I was not long till nightfall so the chance of anyone seeing us was slim.
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Here the stream thunders into the Ling Gill Scar, a beautiful wooded ravine. The barrier is to stop anyone or anything from being swept away into the gorge. 
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Home for the night by the old stone Ling Gill Bridge, any further would be too exposed and probably not very suitable for pitching a tent.
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Somewhere deep down ran the stream, glimpses were had through gaps in the foliage, access was denied by sturdy fences. 

DAY TWO: Ling Gill Bridge to Great Shunner Fell 12 miles

Weather: wet, windy, cloudy, dry in the evening.

A day of wet and windy moors, occasional views of deep bog and lush valleys, dark forests, lunch in a cafe, Wensleydale cheese, and a wild-camp on the fell.

Highs:

  • Not too much rain.
  • A nice lunch in Hawes.
  • Finding a decent wild-camp spot.

Lows:

  • Not many nice views due to the weather.

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DIARY: having slept well we woke to a dry overcast morning.  After breakfast and packing up we followed a rough track, later a tarmac track, where big forestry lorries occasionally grumbled past, up and over Dodd Fell with the odd glimpse of green valleys below.

Soon after setting off the weather had turned a little damp and quite windy. We met a another PW walker clad head-to-toe in waterproofs and carrying a large pack, going from north to south, facing the prevailing wind, full of stories and still smiling.

Eventually we got to Hawes, where I bought some nice cheese from the Wensleydale Creamery and had lunch in a cafe, while the dog had a sausage roll and a tin of dog food outside.

Hawes seemed a nice place to spend some time, but we needed to make tracks. We walked the short distance to Hardraw, where I’d planned to camp, but I decided (foolishly perhaps) to walk on and find a spot on Great Shunner Fell instead. We hiked another 2 miles or so before deciding going any higher would not be sensible due to the wind, and found a sheltered level spot behind a wall. 

By not stopping at Hardraw we missed the Hardraw Waterfall, the tallest single drop fall in England, accessible through the Green Dragon Inn. 

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Lola waiting patiently by the cairn on Dodd Fell, a few miles from last night’s camp.
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A large sheep fold on the Fell.

Observations made by another wayfarer on the trail:

“Its just a long boring slog really”

“These are not real mountains, just big round hills”

“You will like the Cheviots, they are wild and remote”

The long slog bit I agree with. Boring? No, there is little time for boredom, the (total) preoccupation with the trail (route-finding, views, weather, food, sore feet, gates and styles, bog and marsh, animals, where to pitch) keep mind and body busy.

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A rare view emerged of remote hill farms and dark forest.
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Finally we dip under the cloud and see Hawes down in the valley, where hopefully, lunch and cheese await. 
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Down down down the trail goes.
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A short snack and rest break by a farm (Gaudy house) almost at the bottom.
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Leaving Hawes on-route to Hardraw.
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The start of the long trek up Great Shunner fell.
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A large wall provided shelter from the stiff breeze, while a spring in a little valley below provided clean water.
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Two chaps walked close by at 9 pm, chatting loudly, thankfully they didn’t spot us or didn’t care about us wild-camping. 

DAY THREE: Great Shunner Fell to Tan Hill Inn 12 miles

Weather: drizzly, windy, foggy, wet.

A day of miles of bog and fog, lunch in the pub, awkward little styles, overgrown paths, waterfalls and limestone cliffs, more miles of wet, windy, desolate moorland, and camping at the highest pub in England. 

Highs: 

  • The wild beauty of Great Shunner Fell.
  • Sporadic views of deep valleys, waterfalls and limestone cliffs.
  • A good lunch in Thwaite.
  • Getting to Tan Hill Inn.

Lows:

  • Wet and windy weather.
  • Getting soaked through.
  • Many awkward narrow styles.

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DIARY: we woke again to dry weather and, after the usual camp-routines, followed the trail up the hill. It soon started to drizzle and the higher we got, the foggier, windier and wetter it got, so windy in fact I had to put my hood up to stop my hat blowing off.

After many false summits finally the true summit (716m) was reached, where I had a quick snack while perched, bag and all, on the narrow wooden bench in the shelter. Then followed more miles of walking on mill-stones lain across the bogs, no map or compass needed here. A few ups and downs, then the trail turned into a rough farm-track (hard on the legs), before getting to a tarmac lane leading to the small hamlet of Thwaite.

In Thwaite I had lunch in the hotel with the dog napping under my feet, both enjoying the comfort of being inside for a little while.

After lunch we walked up and along Kisdon Hill, struggling with the many narrow styles, overgrown vegetation, blown down birch trees and rocky paths in increasingly foul weather. Just before getting to Keld, where the PW crosses the river Swale, I decided to push on instead of camping on one of the campsites. After a quick look at a waterfall, we started trudging up the track to Stonesdale Moor.

Then followed four miles of walking across exposed windswept moorland with the wind blowing and the rain lashing down horizontally, my moral severely dented and a tired soggy dog following behind. A few suitable wild-camp spots were found but rejected in favour of reaching the Tan Hill Inn and spending the evening in front of a real fire.

Tan Hill was reached before dark where we gratefully dumped our bags in the porch and spent some time drying off and warming up by the fire in the lounge. I was soaked to the skin despite decent waterproofs (I have the tendency to not always fully zip up…) so it was nice to change into dry clothes. In the morning the (amazing) staff kindly tumble-dried my wet clothes, a rare luxury.

After pitching the tent on the least exposed, flat bit of land behind the pub, a few hours were spent chatting and drinking beer by the fire before spending a wet and windy night under canvas.  

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A few miles of big flag stones from old mills provided easy passage across the bogs. The patterns on the slabs are quite intriguing  and keep the mind a little occupied. I also listened to music on my mp3 player to help keep the rhythm going.
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Eerie, desolate but also beautiful.
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After many a false summit the true summit was reached where we stopped to shelter from the wind and had a quick snack.
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A polite sign in the shelter: “Please take litter home”, not far from which someone very recently dropped two banana skins…on the path…
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On and on the slabbed path went, across many bogs and soggy grassland. An energetic-looking family in shorts and waterproof jackets asked how far it was to the summit. It was great to see them all smiling despite the wind, drizzle, fog and lack of views.
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Through a peat grough we got a glimpse of a deep valley.

 

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Down a farm track, towards Thwaite and Muker, once viking settlements, now quiet hamlets surrounded by fertile meadows and dark fells.
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Finally the wild fell, and its wild weather, was left behind and ahead lay farm land. 
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Crossing the river Swale (looking west).
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The river Swale and the bottom of the Kisdon Falls just to the left (looking east). You can see these falls in their full glory if you follow another path down to the water’s edge.
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After a long wet and windy slog across the moors the safe haven of the Tan Hill Inn was reached, the highest pub in England at 528 m.

DAY FOUR: Tan Hill Inn to Baldersdale 12 miles

Weather: sunny spells, a few short showers, windy.

A day of decent weather, soggy moorland, good views, lunch at God’s Bridge, reaching the half-way point of the PW, more miles of moorland, cows chasing the dog, and a wild-camp by the reservoirs.

Highs:

  • Much better weather.
  • A great breakfast in the pub.
  • Dry clothes thanks to the staff at the Inn.
  • Good views due to improved weather conditions.
  • A decent wild-camp spot by the reservoir.
  • A beautiful sunset.

Lows:

  • Lost my hat at the Inn.

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DIARY: thankfully we woke to decent weather, dry with some blue sky though still breezy. After a much needed cooked breakfast in the Inn, we packed up and started crossing a soggy Sleightholme Moor, trying to keep ahead of some very fit-looking elderly hikers. At a bridge the boggy trail gave way to a rough track, then crossed the Beck via a footbridge followed by a trail across a stretch of purple moorland to God’s Bridge. 

At God’s Bridge we had a long relaxed lunch before going under the A66 and crossing a fairly dry Cotherstone Moor to Baldersdale. The shooters’ hut at Deepdale Beck (partially open to hikers) was full of Scottish hikers, so we slowly trudged uphill to Race Yates (a hill top) then downhill to Clove Lodge (no longer a campsite) and the reservoirs.

While looking for a place to pitch, we came across a small herd of curious cows. One look at these big beasts and Lola bolted, bags and all across the field, with me walking as fast as I could to catch up, followed by some very amused cattle. A good deal of dog-whispering was needed to convince Lola I would keep her safe, and she was put on the lead for awhile. 

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The dog patiently waiting and posing in front of the Inn. 
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The snowplow, ready for harsh winter conditions.
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After a large cooked breakfast in the pub, we set off across the notoriously boggy Sleightholme Moss. How bad can it be after the heatwave we’d had? Waterproof socks saved the day – well feet anyway. The weather gods had been kind, despite one or two short sharp showers, the sun occasionally came out and made walking a lot more enjoyable.
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“Dogs to be kept on a lead”. Lola is scared of livestock and runs off when she comes across cows…very fast in the opposite direction. I did carry a lead, used it a few times when needed, and always made sure she was close by. 
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The bogginess started…no problem, the path looked dry…but not for long! The threat of being overtaken by some elderly hikers we met earlier, and we could see some distance behind, made us try to cover this swamp at a good speed. Later when reaching the bridge and firmer land we looked back and saw no one… most odd!
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Despite waterproof socks, detours had to be made to keep the rest of me dry also. Looking back, Tan Hill, and later just the hill it sits on, could be seen for many miles further along the trail.
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Eventually dry land was reached, a bridge then a paved track, which was hard on the feet. On one side shooting butts, for shooting grouse, appeared in a long row on the moor. 
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First we followed the much smaller Frumming Beck, later the larger and quite impressive Sleightholme Beck.
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Crossing the Sleightholme Beck using the footbridge. 
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God’s Bridge, a natural limestone crossing across the river Greta.
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Here we had a long relaxed lunch siting on the grass in the sun. Lola napped while I took care of a small blister on my foot.
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” Congratulations on completing half the Pennine Way. Good luck with the rest.” Hooray! Suckers for punishment maybe.
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The tunnel under the very busy A66 giving safe passage.
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Leaving the road behind we started the trek across a fairly dry Cotherstone Moor to reach the reservoirs of Baldersdale.
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Miles of glorious purple.
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Miles of stone walls as well. Race Yates, a high point on the moor, was reached, Tan Hill is somewhere on the horizon. Somehow we missed the ruins of Ravock Castle, just a few stones in the long grass these days.
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A few miles of easy but pathless moorland before reaching the first reservoirs. In the far distance, The Lune Forest and Dufton Fell.
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Eventually we found a nice little spot near Blackton Reservoir to pitch the tent. 

DAY FIVE: Baldersdale to Low Force 10 miles

Weather: Sunny spells, breezy.

A day of reservoirs, farmland and gentle moorland, sheep chasing the dog, lunch in the pub, food shopping, more farmland, a beautiful river path, awesome waterfalls, and a wild-camp in woodland.

Highs:

  • Good weather.
  • An excellent lunch in a pub in Middleton.
  • The rapids and waterfalls of the river Tees.
  • A great wild-camp spot in a beautiful small woodland.

Lows:

  • the many many narrow styles.

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Diary: after washing hair and some clothes, eating breakfast and packing up, we headed up the hill past Hannah’s Meadow nature reserve, and across a few miles of moorland to Grassholme reservoir.  Then a few more miles of farmland and moorland before getting to Middleton-in -Teesdale.

Some info on Hanna’s Meadow: Hanna’s Meadow link

Wythes Farm, a mile or so from the reservoir, had a selection of snacks and drinks on offer, unfortunately I had no change at all. When crossing some fields, we got followed by a small posse of sheep, showing no fear at all of the dog, who eyed up the woollie creatures with distrust before scarpering out of the way.

I had been exited about Middleton, which sounded like a nice place to have lunch and shop, and the river Tees and its waterfalls. Lunch was had in a quiet dog-friendly pub with a french menu, the food was excellent and not expensive. After buying some snacks and dog-food from the local mini-mart, we found the river path and headed upstream in search of a good place to pitch up.

What I assumed was going to be an easy stroll along the river, turned into an awkward obstacle course; a dog with panniers and narrow Yorkshire styles do not mix. Several small spare bin-liners saved the day. By packing the contents of the panniers into two equal bags I could simply lift these out of the panniers instead of taking the whole thing off every time. This only took two days to figure out…

A small campsite, just a windy field with toilets, was rejected when a large noisy family with several crates of beer turned up, as well as the lack of showers. Near Low Force a secluded spot was found in some woods. We spent the evening admiring the falls and taking selfies with some works of art (big mirrors) under the big pine trees.

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A wash in the stream, a happy dog, funny goats and good weather made a fine start to the day.
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A nice flat pitch by the stream.
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Acrobatic goats eating the leaves off the trees.
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Having a mooch near our camp. Fields of thistles…a ploy to keep campers at bay?
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Some clothes were washed and would hopefully dry in the breeze while hanging off my pack. 
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Balderhead reservoir. We could have played on the beach but miles had to be walked.
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An example of one of the many different awkward styles for furry friends. This one needs to be climbed and jumped.
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Grassholme Reservoir looking east.
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Grassholme Reservoir looking west.
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After crossing some farm land and moorland we reached Middleton-in-Teesdale. 
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A dog-friendly quiet pub served a fantastic meal.

When buying dog biscuits, the lady serving shot me a funny look. They should be used to hikers with rucksacks…maybe I smelled weird…four days and no shower…Then a chap came in saying he’d just seen a dog tied up outside carrying its own bags. The lady looked at me, laughed and exclaimed “Oh I thought these were for you!”…

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 We followed the river Tees to this suspension bridge at Low Force, where the tent was pitched out of the way in some woods. A fine evening was spent just enjoying the scenery.

DAY SIX: Low Force to Maize Beck 12 miles

Weather: sunny spells, windy.

A day of fantastic scenery following the river Tees, stunning waterfalls, rocky cliffs, a large reservoir, miles of lonely moorland, and a wild-camp in a sheepfold on the fell.

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After a great night sleep sheltered by the trees we packed up and hiked a bit further to High Force, one of the biggest waterfalls in the UK and quite spectacular. Recent rainfall after the heatwave meant there was plenty of water cascading over the rock shelf.

Further along there were lots of juniper trees which were suffering from a devastating disease, A sign asked walkers going south to use the boot-cleaning device situated by the path to help stop the spread of the disease. 

The river remained a joy to follow, the scenery became wilder. We walked through a farm with cattle intent of tormenting the dog by running up to her, I protected her by waving my sticks and telling them to get lost, (I am used to cows) suddenly I became her best friend, for a while anyway.

After a battle against the forceful breeze and a struggle across the boulder path close to the river, Falcon Clints was reached. Here we stopped and lay in the sun for a long time, listening to the water flowing, drifting in and out of a light sleep.

Eventually, with some reluctance, we moved on.  Round a bend we came to Cauldron Snout, where the Tees thunders through a narrow rocky channel fed from the Cow Green reservoir. The dog struggled up the big steps next to the falls, she was terrified of the water rushing past close by, I ended up lifting her up the big boulders. At the top, a large concrete dam, incongruous and disputed, holding back the water from the reservoir, what used to be the origin of the river Tees.

After a quick look at the reservoir, we followed a seemingly never-ending vehicle track high up on the moors. A lonely farm and old mine workings were passed, battered by the wind we struggled further, foolishly trying to find some shelter to pitch the little tent. Eventually on tired legs, we arrived at Maize Beck, a big stream flowing high up on the moors but in a slight dip.

The tent was pitched in a sheepfold, where handy rocks made a good seat and table for cooking the only decent dehydrated meal I brought from home. The beef hotpot, all 600 kcals, didn’t touch the sides. The dog fell asleep before the tent was pitched.

Big signs warned of the MOD live-shooting area on one side and the out-of-bound nature reserve on the other…we really shouldn’t have been there, not off-path anyway. Wind and rain battered the tent in the night, but no anti-tank gun or angry gamekeepers took a shot at us. Phew.

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A quick pic before completely taking the tent down.
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Lowe Force waterfalls, absolutely stunning.
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The river Tees
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The small suspension bridge crossing the river Tees. A sign asked for those crossing not to wobble the bridge…
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View from the bridge.
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View from the bridge.
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Lowe force waterfalls
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“A wonderful place to be walking”  Very true!
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Low Force
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Low Force
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The river Tees
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The river Tees
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The river Tees
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The river Tees
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The river Tees
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The river Tees
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High Force waterfall, you hear it before you see it. Absolutely awesome!
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The dog posing at High Force before I tied her to a post. Labradors love water, I didn’t take any chances. Apparently a fridge-freezer once found its way down these falls some years ago after a big storm…
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High Force
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After High Force, the Tees remains wild, all the way to Cauldron Snout.
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The river Tees
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The river Tees
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An ugly intrusion, still inflicting damage blasting stone needed for building towns and roads. 

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Two men approach me, their accents are Dutch, they want to know about the dog.

“You walk with your dog.” Yes…

“Your dog has its own bags.” Indeed.

“I’ve never seen that before.” 

“Come look, the dog has its own bags!”

“Can I take a picture?” 

Had I charged for people taking pictures of the dog it would’ve paid for the train fare home. 

I grew up in Holland, so in Dutch I jokingly tell them the Dutch get everywhere. This of course sparks another familiar conversation. “How long in the UK? Why? Where?”  

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After embarrassingly slipping on rock and almost breaking my poles and legs, we passed a farm where we watched a farmer on a quad-bike. With a lamb and child on board, she herded a flock of sheep using two sheepdogs. Two more children were guarding gates. A fine place to grow up.
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The river Tees
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The river Tees
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The access track to Widdy Bank Farm.
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The first style with a dog gate…made only for tiny dogs not carrying their own bags. Thankfully the kissing gate allows larger beings.
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For a short while the river Tees flows further to the left before rejoining the path near Falcon Clints.
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The river Tees
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An awkward boulder path close the the river took a bit of time traversing without slipping or falling into the river.
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The river Tees
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Falcon Clints, where we had a long relaxed nap in the sun listening to the sound of water.

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A fantastic place for a late lunch
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Remote, wild, beautiful
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A lonely field-barn overlooks the river Tees and Maize Beck 
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After a bend in the river, Cauldron Snout suddenly appears, loud and forceful.
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Rocky steps had to climbed, poles cannot be used here, the dog needed a hand up, she was terrified of the water rushing close by, my knees didn’t like it either, somehow we both got up. I’m used to a bit of scrambling but not with a heavy pack and a nervous dog.
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Cauldron Snout, with a drop of 200 vertical feet, the highest waterfall in England.
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Cauldron Snout
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Cauldron Snout
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The (controversial) dam holding back the water from the Cow Green reservoir.
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Just before the river Tees drops down Cauldron Snout.
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Cow Green reservoir, low after the heatwave.
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The big dam.
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Looking back at Falcon Clints and the river Tees.
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With tired legs and a growling stomach, battered by the wind, we follow the track up and up onto the moors. Maize Beck, which meets the Tees at Cauldron snout, runs below.
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Eventually we reached the banks of Maize Beck, which, as it lies in a slight dip, offered respite from the relentless wind which had blown all day. A  hotpot meal, a change from pot noodle, was cooking itself as the tent was pitched. That and a hot drink made everything okay again. In the night it rained and rained, the wind loosened a badly tied guy-line, which meant we woke to a few small puddles inside the tent. Oh well.

 

DAY SEVEN: Maize Beck to Dufton 6 miles

Weather: dry then wet, foggy, windy on the tops, dry, sunny spells in the valley.

A day of rain, wind and fog, no views at High Cup, wild horses, roaring water, sunshine in the valley, lunch in the cafe, a pitch on the campsite, a look at the ravine, hot showers, good food and a chat with other wayfarers in the pub.

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After a restless night, we woke to puddles in the tent. A bit of a surprise but thankfully no big deal as I used a bivi-bag and a foam mat as well as an inflatable mat. As there was no more muesli left I had a breakfast of much loathed savoury cous-cous and a very nice snickers bar followed by a mug of tea. 

Today we would experience the grandeur of High Cup, amazing views through a huge U-shaped valley all the way to the fells of the Lake District further west…or not…

The weather deteriorated from dry and overcast, to wet, windy and foggy, to the point I checked the OS digital map on my phone to make sure I wasn’t going to either fall off the edge or walk down the wrong side (or worse end up on Dun Fell). 

When I got to where I thought I should be seeing the awesome views, I put on my waterproof trousers (a bit late but hey ho). A  man appeared out of the gloom, a local walking his dog, just out for a stroll, a tough northerner wearing jeans and a fleece…I felt slightly ridiculous.

“How do. Bit blowy today”

Later, as we dipped under the clouds and found the sun shining, we came across more people, all on the way up, all dressed for summer, all giving us funny looks as I was still in damp waterproofs, and making the usual remarks about the dog carrying her own stuff.

One chap remarked “is that your servant?”. I gruffly replied “I wish”. He was not amused, nor was I. My grumpiness didn’t last as fine views west opened up, as well as knowing we had successfully completed another stretch of the PW (3/5).

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Our camp by Maize Beck.

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Puddles in the tent…don’t panic!
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Lola the morning after the storm.
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When you don’t pack enough cereal and end up eating couscous.
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The bridge over the Maize Beck. By taking the newer (dryer) route  we missed out on Maize Beck Scar, a limestone gully carved out by the stream.
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Views from the bridge looking east.
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and looking west.
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High Cup: Brace yourself for those incredible views…
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Lower down a we got few glimpses. 
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The fog thinned, the rain stopped.
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We lingered in vain, but High Cup remained cloaked in cloud.
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This photo doesn’t do it any justice. The view west is wonderful, the Vale of Eden and further west the high fells of the Lake District. Somehow we still got a stunning view, just not the one we anticipated.
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The fell gave way to farmland, cows and sheep grazed contently, a farm sold snacks and drinks from a cool-box, the track became a tarmac lane. 
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To the left, a footpath to Keisley and High Cup Gill.
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Not far now to Dufton…
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…where a very nice lunch was served by a very nice man in the local tea-shop/post-office.

DAY EIGHT: Dufton to Appleby in Westmorland (3 + 3 + 4) 10 miles

Weather: sunshine, drizzle, breezy, warm.

A day of goodbyes, a walk back up High Cup and back, undulating country lanes, lunch in a cafe, a train to Carlisle then south to Worcestershire and home.

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High Cup in full glory. Picture courtesy of Karl.

DIARY: we woke to good weather, rabbits nibbling on the grass and the sound of rural village life. After saying goodbye and good luck to other way-farers, we left our gear at the campsite and walked back up the hill to High Cup. We almost got to the top but turned back as we found the upper valley still cloaked in thick cloud. It was nice to have a last walk up the fell, especially without the big rucksack, even if we didn’t get a view.

Back at the campsite we packed up and started walking the 3 miles along the lanes to Appleby. Rural traffic, pickup trucks and landrovers with trailers, raced past us on the narrow road, not like the quiet fell-walking we’d enjoyed for a week. The weather turned drizzly and windy, but also very humid.

We got to Appleby in good time and decided to have lunch in a busy cafe, where the dog got lots of fuss and I got chatting with a Scot, who had a dislike of tall things such as mountains. A kind shop keeper across the road charged my phone for free. After a week of careful use the battery pack had finally run out of charge. Forgetting to bring my wall plug I could not charge it on-route.

A few hours later we caught the train first north to Carlisle, then south to my home town in Worcestershire. 

Uplifting comment made by a fellow walker on FB:

“Great to see that we have a walker doing it the ideal way, a real salty camper taking the way on the chin. You have my admiration, well done on your endurance so far, keep with it and take your time.”

How nice is that?

A week later, my right knee became very painful, driving was torture, walking almost impossible…a GP diagnosed ‘runner’s knee’ syndrome.

I didn’t lose any weight this time but toned up a fair bit.

My aim had been to walk 10-12 miles a day and wild-camp as much as possible. 

Lessons learnt from this trip:

  • Train for your trip but don’t overdo it.
  • Stretch and exercise specific muscles.
  • Double check your kit, I forgot a few things.
  • Don’t give up when it rains, you will survive.

Kit list:

  • Montane GT 55 rucksack
  • TT Stealth 2 tent
  • Rab Ascent 500 sleeping bag
  • Equinox Bivi-bag
  • Thermarest Neoair Venture mat
  • Z-Lite mat
  • STS pillow
  • Four dry-bags (2 big, 2 small) 
  • TN waist pouch
  • Stormin Stove meths cooking set + ti 650 mug + bowl + ti spoon + ss plate
  • Matches and lighter
  • Small first aid kit
  • Wash bag + travel towel
  • Toilet kit (loo-roll – travel-jane – blizzard stake – poo bags)
  • One set of spare clothes
  • Waterproofs
  • Pedal bin liners
  • Head-torch + spare batteries 
  • Wallet
  • OS A-Z maps (cut out) in map holder
  • Mobile Phone + battery pack + cable
  • Food (dehydrated)
  • Water pouches + filter
  • Dog panniers + bowl + food
  • Dog rain jacket
  • Dog blanket
  • Short roll-mat for dog

Roughly 10 kg without water and snacks

What (possible) changes next time: 

  • Maybe a lighter rucksack (such as my Granite Gear or similar)
  • Ti plate instead of stainless steel
  • Lighter mat (expensive and not as comfy?)
  • Exped UL dry-bags (lighter but expensive)
  • Take a light showerproof jacket as well
  • Better panniers for dog
  • Dry-bags for dog panniers
  • Better additional guy-lines 
  • Pen/pencil and paper for notes
  • An extra base-layer  

What I did not use at all:

  • Blizzard stake (trowel/spare tent peg)
  • Travel Jane 
  • Spare batteries

Thanks for reading. Hopefully more next year.

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Pennine Way Trip 2

 

Pennine Way Trip

Stage two

October 2017

Hebden Bridge to Horton in Ribblesdale 

50 miles – 5 days – 5 camps – 12 kgs

 

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Pictures taken with my Sony Mobile.

DAY ONE: Hebden Bridge to Widdop Reservoir 7M

Walked from the train station to Jack’s Bridge via Colden Clough, then to May’s Emporium (a farm shop) to buy some supplies.

Hiked across Hebdonstall Moor to Lower Gorple Reservoir, then across the hill to the Cludders Rocks (crazy rock formations) by Widdop reservoir.

Made camp in the shelter of a woodland by some very large boulders.

Weather: breezy, some rain, some sun.

 

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Highs:

  • Colden Clough: a steep and wooded valley (ravine) carved out by Colden Water.
  • Lower Gorple and Widdop Reservoirs: wild and quite remote high up on the moors.
  • Fairly decent and very scenic camping spot.

Lows:

  • Damp clothes (not wearing my decent jacket) 
  • Damp gear (not everything was in dry-bags.
  • Everywhere very sodden underfoot.

 

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Hebden Bridge
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Colden Water.
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A pack-horse Bridge.
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Lower Gorple Reservoir, wild n windy!
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Lower Gorple Reservoir
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Creepy woods, did not fancy camping there…

 

DAY TWO: Widdop Reservoir to Dean Hole near Ickornshaw 10M.

Walked from Widdop reservoir  to Withins Top (“Wuthering Heights”) along the Walshaw Dean Reservoirs and across the Bronte moors.

From Withins Top up to Delf Hill trig-point and down to Ponden via Ponden Clough (quite a steep but interesting decent).

From Ponden Reservoir up and across a very wet Ickornshaw Moor to Dean Hole, a sheltered spot by a stream near a ruined farmhouse.

Weather: Breezy, sunny spells, cool.

 

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Highs:

  • Great views across ‘wild’ country.
  • Watching a sheepdog herding sheep.
  • Friendly walkers stopping for a chat.
  • Good camping spot (flat, sheltered, out of sight, little stream close by).

Lows:

  • Very wet underfoot.

 

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The morning after a wet and blustery night.
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The Cludders Slack rocks, there are more higher up, some precariously balanced on top of others. Across the water Widdop Lodge and Higher houses, a fairly remote place to live.
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Looking east…
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…and looking west. There was a crazy Labrador in the water chasing his ball.
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Windy Widdop.
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Looking back to the Heptonstall Moors.
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The Walshaw Dean Reservoirs.
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Man-made intrusions…reservoirs, moorland, farmland, all is created or managed by human hands, taming the wild lands.
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Looking back at the reservoirs from Wadsworth Moor. Other walkers told me this used to be dire before some of it was flagged.
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Wadsworth Moor.
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Withins Top or Wuthering Heights…not many Bronte fans about on this breezy day.
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Going down Ponden Clough to Ponden Reservoir.
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There were two of these on the way down, part of the water management.
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Four miles of wet Ickornshaw Moorland to get across…thankfully it didn’t rain.
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Plenty wet!

 

Day three: Dean Hole to Gargrave 13M.

A seemingly never-ending slog through saturated fields, muddy farmyards, cow poo, quiet little villages, along lanes and tracks, through bog, across slippery boardwalks and many many styles.

Weather: Breezy, drizzly, mostly overcast.

 

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Highs:

  • Getting to Gargrave: toilets, food, showers!

Lows:

  • Gas cooker no longer working (faulty screw-thread). 
  • Everywhere was saturated underfoot (or covered in cow-muck).
  • Extremely slippery boardwalks across the boggy bits (making wading through the bog a safer option).
  • Wet socks (due to not wearing my goretex liners as one had started to rub badly).

 

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Camp at Dean Hole, just below the moors.
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Getting to Ickornshaw. ‘Are you lost?’ asked the bin man…great, instead of looking like an intrepid explorer I looked like a bimbling idiot…I smiled and quickly walked on.
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After much slodging through wet farmland, it was kind of good to be on the moors again.
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Strange wildlife at Pinhaw Beacon.
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Funny little stiles in these parts.
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The well-known double-arched bridge at East Marton. The pub was open but the cafe was shut unfortunately.
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Not a good picture but this was a bit of a highlight: a signpost pointing to Gargrave and beautiful limestone country beyond.

 

DAY FOUR: Gargrave to Great Hill (a few miles past Malham Tarn) 12M.

Woke to a frosty morning and the promise of a sunny day. Beautiful walk first across farmland, then following the river Aire to Malham and Malham Cove.

After  lunch and sightseeing, up into the hills through Ing Scar to Malham Tarn,  and further uphill to Great Hill, upland fields topped with limestone outcrops and inhabited by sheep and shaggy highland cattle.

Weather: sunny and quite warm, cold at dusk.

 

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Highs:

  • Lovely weather.
  • Amazing views.
  • Incredible scenery.
  • Cooked food in the cafe in Malham.
  • Feeling quite fit.

Lows:

  • Not seeing the sun set.
  • Not putting on a warm layer when it got cold, got very chilled and had to warm up in the sleeping bag and eat some of tomorrow’s food.
  • Didn’t sleep too well.

 

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Its not so bad when the sun is out. 
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The Way follows the river Aire for a few miles. Still very wet underfoot, I see why locals wear wellie boots.
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Up and over Windy Pike i.s.o. following the river path, the views of Malham were worth it.
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Then there is Malham Cove…I felt very lucky to have such good weather.

 

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Malham Cove. Some rock climbers were trying to find a way up, a boy got himself stranded on a rock in the fast flowing stream and needed a hand (a pole in this case) to get off safely, others got wet feet walking across the flooded path.
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Awesome!
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Clint and Grykes, limestone pavement, remnants of an ocean floor many many years ago.
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A bit of fun clambering about without the big bag. Parents wisely kept their children away from the edge.
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Malham Cove
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Malham Cove
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Limestone pavement.
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Along the Ing Scar to Malham Tarn, more fantastic scenery. Highland cattle were chilling behind the wall.
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Water Sinks: where the river disappears underground for a few miles.
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Approaching Malham Tarn.
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Malham Tarn, a large natural upland lake.
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Malham Tarn 
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Malham Tarn
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Just past the research centre.
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Making camp near a farm where nobody lives, behind a wall to shelter from the prevailing wind. It feels quite remote even though there are a few farms nearby.

 

DAY FIVE: Great Hill to Horton in Ribblesdale, a mountain day 11M.

An ‘interesting’ walk across Fountains Fell (668m) and Pen Y Ghent (694m) in wet and windy weather.

Weather: very windy, wet, foggy and overcast.

 

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Highs:

  • Bagging two Nuttalls (mountain tops over 600m) despite missing the path and having to traverse across very wild terrain in quite challenging conditions (involving very strong unrelenting wind, thick hill fog and persistent heavy drizzle. All good fun…).
  • Meeting ‘interesting’ people on route, but no wayfarers.

…Came across a very large sinkhole called ‘Churn Milk Hole’. When I looked down I felt quite hypnotized…everything was swirling round and round…strange forces at play or just lack of food/sleep…

  • Going up and down Pen Y Ghent at a good speed despite ‘a very stiff breeze’…not many ‘three-peakers’ about that day.
  • Feeling of great satisfaction at having completed another chunk.
  • Staying dry (-ish) after 6 hours of  wet windy weather.
  • Signing my name in the Pennine Wayfarers Book (vol 6) in the Penyghent Cafe.
  • Having the best meal ever in the pub.

Lows:

  • I could say ‘the weather’ but I got to see the views the following day, I also stayed dry and completed the stretch which ended at a nice little campsite (showers!) and by a roaring fire in the pub.

 

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Ready for the big hills.
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After much uphill plodding through heather, avoiding sinkholes and old mine-shafts and traversing around peat groughs the disused weather station (now a cairn and a seat) was reached.
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More arduous walking, while holding a compass and a map as well as two walking poles, trying to find a way across this wild terrain to the (main) summit of Fountains Fell 668m.  
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 After lunch behind a wall, Pen Y Ghent was tackled. A stern looking chap was leading a group of young men…one was getting very wet in his tracksuit…not sure if they enjoyed the experience…On the other hand it was nice to see a few well kitted-out younger ones out on the hills with their parents and not moaning (much).
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The shelter on the summit., not a place to linger today.
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After a long battle with the wind, level ground was reached and visibility improved.
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The end is near, though that mile and a bit seemed to take forever.
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After a pint of tea in the cafe, setting up the tent, a long hot shower and a change of clothes, it was time for a proper meal in a warm pub…
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…where we all had to wear funny hats…some kind of Halloween thing. I enjoyed sitting by the fire, reading a book and drinking yorkshire ale.

 

DAY SIX: Going home.

After a windy night on the campsite, I woke to a glorious sunny day with fine views. Had a good breakfast in the cafe where I got chatting to other hikers and cafe staff who asked about the trip (thank you).

Took the train north to Ribblehead to have a quick look at the train viaduct, then south to Leeds and further south home in Worcestershire. Not sure whether taking off my smelly boots on the train was appreciated by fellow travelers…

 

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Early morning at the campsite in the village.
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Nice quirky little campsite with basic facilities but the option to have a chill and natter in the cozy ‘shed’.

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The river Ribble.
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Horton in Ribblesdale. A nice place to visit. I’m looking forward to going back.
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Horton in Ribblesdale.
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At the station looking at Pen Y Ghent.
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Off to Ribblehead.

 

More to follow: kit list etc.

Hopefully more next year.

Thanks for reading!

Continue reading “Pennine Way Trip 2”

Pennine Way trip 1

Pennine Way Trip 1

Stage one

August 2017

Edale to Hebden Bridge

50 miles – 5 days – 4 camps – 12kgs

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Selfie on Black Hill
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Kinderdownfall – photo by Peak-Photos

DAY ONE: Edale station to Sandy Hayes on Kinderscout 7m.

Walked from Edale Station to the Field Centre ( for a last minute gear check and toilet stop) then on to Sandy Hayes, a point on the far western edge of the plateau. Camped on a flattish grassy spot in the shelter of a peat bank.

Weather: quite sunny, mild, rain and some wind in the evening.

HIGHS:

  • Kinder plateau, wild and beautiful
  • Kinder Downfall, bigger and more dramatic than expected
  • Listening to red grouse and curlews calling
  • Very quiet except for big airliners overhead
  • Meeting unusual folk (including a man striding up Jacobs Ladder in a kilt)
  • The forecast thunder was just a distant rumbling
  • Slept quite well.

Lows:

  • Heavy backpack
  • Didn’t spot any hares this time.

Excuse poor quality of images, all pics taken by phone to save weight.

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Tuesday’s route 7 miles
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At the Nag’s Head, the official start of the route, still looking fresh. No time for a quick drink, I needed to get up the hill before dark.
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Walking along pleasant farmland to the start of the climb up Jacob’s Ladder
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Looking back towards Edale
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The start of the steep but short climb up Jacob’s ladder
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The top of the steep bit
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Up on the plateau 600 m and a bit high and very flat.
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Kinder Downfall, rocky amphitheater and waterfall. Spot the chaps on the rocks, who says you can’t have fun climbing mountains in jeans and fashion trainers (as long as the weather is good).
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Looking at Kinder reservoir from Kinder Downfall.

DAY TWO: Sandy Hayes (Kinderscout) – Crowden 12m

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WEATHER: rain, fog, wind and thunder in the morning, sunny and mild in the afternoon, a light breeze on top.

HIGHS:

  • Amazing views when the sun came out
  • Helpful hikers putting me on the right track to Mill Hill
  • The sun coming out at midday
  • Beautiful wild scenery 
  • Meeting some very nice people throughout the day (including two Dutch Pennine hikers)
  • Hot showers and a shop at campsite.

LOWS:

  • Getting a little lost on Kinder Scout (getting the map out is good, not getting the compass out is not good)
  • Newly charged batteries in GPS not working the only time I actually needed it, the spare lot didn’t work either
  • Somehow not seeing the Wain Stones 
  • Aches and pains, hips mostly but was remedied a little by re-adjusting the pack.
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Walking up Bleaklow from the Snake Pass. Spot the busy road high across the moor.
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Flagstones across the boggy bits.
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Looking back to Kinderscout. From here on you follow a path that follows a stream through groughs involving some boggy/wet bits but mostly very green.
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Selfie at Bleaklow Summit
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Good old Granite Gear pack doing the job fine.
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Torside comes into view, the purple heather is beautiful.
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Stunning views back to Bleaklow.
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The eastern end of Torside, lots of trees…
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…and man-made structures which I found interesting. I almost camped here as I love the sound of running water and it was flat and peaceful, but chose the comfort of the campsite as I wasn’t sure about my slightly funny stomach.

 

DAY THREE: Crowden to Standedge via Marsden 12m.

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WEATHER: sunny, mild, breezy on top.

HIGHS:

  • Stunning scenery
  • Quite dry underfoot
  • Lots of purple, green and yellow 
  • The Laddow Rocks escarpment
  • Meeting nice people on route hiking and biking
  • De-touring into Marsden via the Blakeley and Butterley reservoirs
  • Getting a Chinese takeaway in Marsden
  • Polite and helpful youngsters in town
  • A great welcome in the Carriage House Inn (hikers, bar staff and total strangers) 
  • A long hot shower and a good sleep.

LOWS:

  • Sore feet, had to tape up some toes.
  • Weirdos in church yard where I had my dinner
  • What I thought might be a burger van on the A635 turned out to be a white car
  • Forgetting to fill water bottles with fresh water.

 

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Walking up to the Laddow Rocks
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The Laddow Rocks
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Views east, endless rolling moorland.
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Looking south
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Having a break, Holm Moss mast in the distance.
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Flags across boggy ground leading up to the summit of Black Hill.
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Looking back across Tooleyshaw Moor.
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Soldiers Lump, the summit of Black Hill 582m.
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Black Hill
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Black Hill
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Crossing Dean Clough, it was a little steep!
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Art at Wessenden Head.
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A service road takes you past various reservoirs;  Wessenden Head where I had a long lunch, Wessenden Reservoir after which the Pennine Way turns left and goes up on the moors, Blakeley and Butterley Reservoirs which I followed to Marsden.
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Wessenden Head Reservoir
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Wessenden Reservoir
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Blakeley Reservoir

DAY FOUR: Standedge to Stoodley Pike 12m.

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Weather: sunny spells, a little overcast, breezy on top.

HIGHS:

  • A decent night sleep despite damp and traffic noise
  • Fab views from Millstone Edge to Diggle, Delph and other little places
  • Amazing seeing the A640 climb up the moors eastwards
  • Seeing Stoodley Pike in the distance
  • Crossing the M62, a strange almost surreal experience
  • A quiet lunch at Blackstone Edge alone in the stone shelter
  • A pleasant detour around Warland Reservoir across Stoney Edge Moor
  • Finding a full bottle of flavoured water when I was running low on water
  • Getting a good camping spot on Higher moor near Stoodley Pike
  • Watching the sun set while sitting on a rocky outcrop having a late dinner.

LOWS:

  • Knowing its my last day tomorrow
  • The amounts of rubbish left in the lay-by by the A672
  • Grim views north from Blackstone Edge (White Holme Moss, A58, Blackstone Edge Reservoir)
  • Sore Feet!
  • Not much fresh water about
  • No cooked food to be had at the White House Pub meaning an evening dinner of crisps, chocolate and instant soup.

 

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The foot-bridge over the M62
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Stoodley Pike
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Great views from Millstone Edge
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Castleshaw Reservoirs
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Millstone Edge
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The trigpoint on White Hill.
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There in the distance the first view of the motorway crossing the moors.
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The M62 trans-Pennine motorway
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That innocent puddle is a 3ft deep bog.
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My lunch spot, still in view of the M62 rumbling in the distance.
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Blackstone Edge, no crowds, just views.
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Blackstone Edge
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Blackstone Edge
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Blackstone Edge
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The Aigin Stone, an ancient boundary stone found on the moor and re-resurrected. I promptly lost the path here (following a shortcut trail on the map) thus missing the ancient ‘Roman track’ and made my way across rough moorland to the quarry by the road below.
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The White House pub looking a bit forlorn.
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Blackstone Edge reservoir.
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Warland Reservoir
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Extensive work being done at Warland Reservoir.
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Detour along Stoney Edge, good to see the purple heather again.
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One of the many groughs
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A water drain for the reservoir.
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Heading for Stoodley Pike.
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Arriving at Higher Moor looking for a place to camp.
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A sheltered spot in the old quarry, not far from the path but I was too tired to care.
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Dinner on the rocks.
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Views to Todmorden and Mankinholes.
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Stoodley Pike, a torch is needed to go up the many stairs to the balcony.
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Views north from Stoodley pike.

DAY FIVE: Stoodley Pike to Hebden Bridge 5m.

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WEATHER: a few low clouds skimming the tops in the morning, sunny and warm.

HIGHS: 

  • Having breakfast with great views
  • A lighter pack (all food gone)
  • A pleasant walk through Callis Wood and along the canal to Hebden Bridge
  • Meeting lovely people on route

 

“Where have you come from?”

“How far have you walked?”

“Nice day for it”

“Your pack looks heavy”

“You’re doing amazing, enjoy your trip”

 

  • Eating good food in Hebden Bridge 
  • Enjoying a nice rest in the park, lying on my mat & pillow, boots off, in the sun
  • Comfortable train journey home
  • Going home to my family
  • Big sense of achievement.

LOWS:

  • Sore feet, one blister
  • Tired

 

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A lock at Hebden Bridge.

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Callis Wood, beautiful broad-leaf woodland. The first trees I’d seen in a while.
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Journey’s end: time to leave the Pennine Way and follow the tow path into Hebden.
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A last look back to where the Pennine Way runs across the bridge and travels north towards Heptonstall Moor and Bronte Country
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A community of boat dwellers along the canal in Hebden Bridge.

Due to a mostly dry summer, after miles of walking across ‘boggy’ moorland my boots were still more or less dry and clean, quite unexpected. I also didn’t need to wear my insulated jacket as it had been really mild.

KIT:

  • Rucksack: Granite Gear Vapour Trail 60L inc flash pocket
  • Tent: Hexpeak 4 with inner
  • Thermarest prolite wms pro mat
  • Thermarest z-lite mat
  • Snugpack Tactical 2 sleeping bag
  • Waterproofs: Rab Vidda jacket, Montane Atomic trousers
  • Cooker: Alpkit Jackall Brukit, bowl & spork, knife
  • Clothes (in the bag): spare underwear, 2 spare baselayer tops, two pairs of leggings, one pair of shorts, two pairs of socks, thin gloves, lightweight insulated jacket
  • Compass, gps, map, reading glasses
  • Mobile phone, battery pack, leads, plug
  • Ditty bag for toiletries, first aid, batteries etc
  • Pee bottle
  • Plastic to sit on and keep Prolite mat dry
  • Food for 4/5 days: one chicken curry, tuna sachets, wraps, muesli, milk chocolate, snickers, hot chocolate, coffee whitener
  • Leki walking poles.

One pair of thermal leggings, buff and empty batteries were left at a campsite.

CHANGES for next time:

  • A few mods to tent inner guys
  • Use a smaller mat (Prolite small or similar) which is lighter and will fit into the rucksack to act an internal support making the bag less floppy.
  • Use bottle holders on the hip belt, take a bladder as well
  • Pee bottle or pstyle? both? 
  • Lightweight quilt/blanket iso long johns and thermal socks?
  • Lighter knife (someone borrowed my mini Swiss army)
  • Better first aid kit and a sewing kit
  • Poncho instead of plastic to sit on?
  • Small camera with bigger battery pack.
  • Better variety of dried food (include hard cheese and dried meat, crackers iso wraps)
  • Smaller maps

On day 5 I’d got used to the fairly strict routine of making/taking down  camp, how to pack, what pace to walk and how to grit your teeth and just keep going when pain/tiredness set in. The last miles were funnily enough always the easiest.

It wasn’t so much the distance walking, I’d broken down the route into 10/12m chunks, it was the backpack that made it hard, not used to carrying loads anymore and being in my late forties with a history of hip, knees and back niggles.

Thank you for reading.

Tallis, August 2017